A New Perspective
Thursday March 10, 2016 8:10 am-9:30 am
This was the last class period before spring break (and our last day discussing The Trojan Women) so my mind was focused on spring break as I walked into class. As the site coordinator for Alternative Spring Break Newark, I was worried about last minutes details, fully confirming all of our sites, making sure food and housing was secure for the millionth and first time, and other miscellaneous ASB related things. The Trojan Women was basically the furthest thing from my mind as I walked into class that day. However, our class discussion quickly turned my attention. Being a Black feminist (and yes that stated intersection is important)one of the things I had liked about The Trojan Women was that there was a focus on the women for a change. Oftentimes in Greek literature women, women are only discussed in relation to the men they “belong” to or diminished to being props (Ex: Helen as Menelaus’ wife, Hekabe as Priam’s wife or Hekabe’s mother and only appearing in relation to her husband or son). In The Trojan Women there are no longer any Trojan men left living and so Euripides is forced to discuss the women of Troy as actual people, not just people who exist in relation to men as wives or mothers, but as queens, princesses, nobility, and most importantly, as women. We talked about who we thought had the worst fate and I had to go with Andromache. She had lost her husband who it was obvious that she loved very much, then as if that wasn’t enough her son, an innocent baby, was torn from her and murdered. The fact that she was able to even continue living was so powerful to me. I don’t think we spent enough time discussing this particular part of TTW. A baby was murdered and we pretty much glossed over it like “Oh there goes those Greeks again doing Greek stuff.” Andromache really suffered the most because to lose everything you love and care about is honestly a fate worse than death.
Saturday March 12, 2016 12:30 pm-3:30 pm
This was the first day of ASB and even though we hadn’t even left Howard for yet, it was already super hectic with my participants and Team Leaders looking to me for guidance. I was a little overwhelmed and extremely tired, so I was relieved when it was finally time to get on the bus. I thought it was nap time for sure. No such luck! Every few minutes someone tapped with questions such as “Are we there yet?” “What are we eating today?” “Can I go visit XYZ during the trip?” My default answers were “No. Food. No.” Finally I resolved myself to the fact that I was going to be awake for the whole ride and pulled up Euripides Helen to read. After the first time I read it, I just looked at the words on the page like “What the #@$%!?” This interpretation pretty much turned everything that I had ever thought about Helen upside down. The story of Helen had been my favorite since I had read the Nobody’s Princess series by EstherM. Freisner when I was younger. In the series, Helen had been a hardheaded young girl who did as she pleased and went wherever her heart lead her. Having read this story as a young girl before learning about the “real” story of Helen in The Iliad, it had always made sense to me that she had run off to be with Paris. She was one of my earliest “feminist” icons before I even knew what feminism was. This iteration of her story basically turned that entire story upside down for me and I was not pleased. I read pieces of it again and just resigned myself to the belief that this was a parody of Helen that Euripides wrote as one big joke.
Tuesday March 15, 2016 9:00pm-1:00am
I was exhausted. At ASB we had gone to 2 different schools and worked on an urban farm that day, but I knew I had to get some of my work done because the week was only going to get harder and harder and there would be even less time for me to do homework. To tackle my more enjoyable work first I read over Euripides’ Helen again, and started to reminisce about my childhood book again so I pulled it up and tried to find similarities between Helen of my book and Euripides’ Helen. There weren’t many personality wise except for the fact that both Helen’s often came up with wily tricks to get themselves out of trouble and found comfort in the fact that one thing that that one thing had survived across all the Helens.